Karamoko Dembele: Celtic give 13-year-old debut for U20s Development side

Jack Aitchison celebrates scoring for Celtic against Motherwell
Could Dembele follow in the footsteps of Jack Aitchison, who became Celtic's youngest ever player - and scorer - at 16 in May?

Celtic fans may soon have a new Dembele to savour after 13-year-old Karamoko Dembele made his debut for the club's development team on Monday.

French striker Moussa Dembele, 20, has made an instant impact this season with 12 goals for the Scottish champions.

But the latest Dembele - no relation - came on for the final nine minutes of Celtic Under-20s' win against Hearts.

He replaced Jack Aitchison, 16, who became Celtic's youngest-ever player in the final game of last season.

Aitchison scored with his first touch after coming on as a substitute aged 16 years and 71 days in their 7-0 rout of Motherwell in May.

But Ivorian Dembele could challenge that record after appearing for the club's reserve team, which is seven years above his age group.

Dembele went viral with a series of tricks playing for Celtic's U13s at the St Kevin's Boys Academy Cup tournament in Dublin this summer.

Celtic's websiteexternal-link said Dembele "didn't look out of place" after being given his chance on Monday at Greenock Morton's Cappielow ground, with six of their usual squad away on Scotland U19s duty.

The 15-year-old Kieran McGrath also played.

Celtic's head of youth, Chris McCart, added: "We were all delighted to see Karamoko make his debut for the development squad against Hearts in what proved to be an entertaining game.

"The fact that he was playing against other players seven years his senior gives an indication of the quality this young boy possesses and it was also fitting that he came on for Jack Aitchison, the club's youngest-ever goalscorer.

"What we need to remember, though, is that Karamoko is just 13 years old. He was given a chance to play last night on merit, as was Kieran, but it is very important that we continue their development at a measured pace.

"Karamoko is still a young boy and has a lot of growing to do, both physically and mentally.

"The coaches at our under-13 and 14 levels have been fantastic in nurturing his potential, but it is crucial that we do not push him too far, too soon.

"He has a lot of hard work ahead of him to make it to the top and we won't rush that, but we also know Karamoko, and the other talented young players we have here, is at the perfect place to continue his progress and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for this young player."

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